The problem with discount hearing aids and batteries

August 15, 2011 by Michelle Fournier

The problem with discount hearing aids and batteries

At times, persons with hearing loss can be tempted to shop around for the best price on hearing aids. Choosing the right hearing aids, however, should come down to more important factors than cost alone. The team of professionals who will take care of your hearing aid adjustments and fittings should be the number one deciding factor.

Choosing a team

Hearing health professionals, audioprosthetists and specialized educators, will take you under their wing and walk you through choosing the right hearing aids.

As hearing health professionals, audioprosthetists are there to guide you through the process of selecting hearing aids (sale, fitting and adjustment) and assistive listening devices, according to your hearing needs, lifestyle and preferences. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, audioprosthetists have to be informed and aware of all latest developments and the unique features of each product on the market in order to effectively advise you. They will also monitor your reintegration into the world of sound and communication. Adapting to the presence of sound is a crucial step, one that is taken with the help of a specialized educator.

In collaboration with the audioprosthetist, the educator follows a treatment plan and teaches individuals with hearing loss about their prosthetics. The goal is to ensure the best possible adaptation to the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices. The educator works alongside the hearing-impaired person throughout the process of becoming acclimatized to the listening environment, and answers his or her questions. The specialized educator thus sees to it that every patient feels fully at ease handling and maintaining his or her hearing aids, and uses listening and communication techniques effectively. The educator is therefore a key piece of the puzzle in ensuring the best possible adaptation of patients to their new hearing aids, and in making the hearing experience a success.

This team of professionals is by your side to ease your transition into the world of sound.

Choosing the service

The process of obtaining hearing aids calls for adjustments by a qualified audioprosthetist, as well as meticulous monitoring by a specialized educator working closely with the latter. Fine tuning your hearing aids thus demands a certain expertise, listening ability and affinity with the audioprosthetist and his or her team. Several visits will be required, so it is important that the relationship between the team of professionals and the patient be as constructive as possible, and that the professionals be quickly and readily accessible to you.

Obtaining hearing aids requires approximately four visits:

  • Selection
  • Adjustment
  • Post-prosthesis follow-up (two visits)

These services are included with your hearing aid purchase.

Eventually, biannual visits are recommended to ensure your hearing aids perform at their best and are cleaned more thoroughly.

Choosing based on your listening needs

We cannot stress it enough: your hearing aids must be chosen and adjusted based on your current and future listening and communication needs. For some, the option of a remote or Bluetooth receiver (to be compatible with a cell phone or other Bluetooth-type transmitter) may be essential, while for others it may be important to have hearing aids with multiple programs, a button to control several settings, or a volume control to remain flexible in the long-term. Such latitude in fittings means the hearing aids can be adjusted over time based on the wearer’s listening needs, thus increasing user satisfaction. Once chosen, these options can be activated or deactivated as needed.

Choosing certain options and taking future needs into account may affect the price of your hearing aids. However, the cost difference will be less than having to replace the hearing aids early because they no longer meet the user’s needs. It is therefore important to fully understand your own needs and invest in the hearing aids that stand up to the demands of your day-to-day life.

Identifying your listening and communication needs

Listening needs are, essentially, situations that pose a problem for hearing-impaired persons and for which they would like to improve the quality of their hearing.

Here are a few examples:

  • watching television
  • talking on the phone
  • meeting with a group (e.g. a reunion)
  • having a discussion at a restaurant
  • talking while in a car
  • listening to a presentation
  • going to the movies
  • using a cell phone
  • etc.

Choosing batteries

The cost of batteries also depends on their quality. Cheap batteries are available in some big-box stores and even on the Internet; however, cheaper often equates to poorer performance. To be sure your hearing aids work properly, superior-quality batteries are a must.

By skimping on something as inexpensive as batteries, you could significantly compromise the performance of your hearing aids. Since hearing aids operate using a digital circuit that analyzes the wearer’s sound environment on a continuous basis, they require a constant and stable power source.

Knowing how to spot a high-quality battery

  • As their name suggests, zinc-air batteries contain zinc, which is sealed inside the battery with a sticker. When the sticker is removed for the first time, the zinc comes into contact with the air, thereby activating the battery.
  • The battery should have one flat side and one rounded side (not two rounded sides, as with some brands, since this can cause the battery contacts inside the hearing aid to bend, and eventually weaken the contact).
  • There should be no glue residue left on the flat side (this is often an indicator that the battery is not good or has been exposed to humidity).
  • Any battery should have small holes on the flat side (the side to which the sticker was affixed), since this is what allows air to enter and activate the zinc.

An informed decision

In closing, choosing hearing aids based specifically on price can hinder their current and future performance. This is precisely why the service provided by the team of professionals (audioprosthetists and specialized educators) is so important, considering that purchasing hearing aids involves adjustment and follow-up appointments throughout the devices’ service lives. Although it can be tempting to try and save money by buying cheaper hearing aids, first and foremost, your best bet is to invest in a team of hearing health professionals who will be there for you!

Do not hesitate to consult an audioprosthetist at any Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinic for more information.